TIGERVILLE, S.C. (courtesy ngu.edu) — The North Greenville University (NGU) School of Allied Health Professions (SOAHP) held its annual white coat and hooding ceremonies for the Master of Medical Science in PA Studies on Friday, December 10, in Turner Chapel on the school’s Tigerville Campus.
Dr. Jordan Hairr, associate dean for the School of Allied Health Professions and Physician Assistant (PA) program director, was among the school’s leaders who greeted the 59 PA students, friends, and family members in attendance.
“We are excited to be able to honor both cohorts of students in a joint ceremony and share their accomplishments with everyone here,” said Hairr.
The hooding ceremony recognizes the Cohort of 2021’s accomplishments, which graduated from the program during commencement exercises that evening.
The white coat ceremony celebrates PA students’ successful completion of their didactic year. The ceremony is an essential first step in the career of a future physician assistant, serving as a rite of passage at medical and PA schools around the country. On Friday afternoon, the new students committed to their future before friends and family with the recitation of the PA Professional oath and the donning of the white coat.
“The Class shared with me yesterday they had taken over 150 exams throughout the past year. That is an amazing statistic. The exams ranged from multiple-choice exams about medical conditions, physical exams, clinical procedures, healthcare ethics, pediatric, and geriatric medicine,” said Hairr. “It also included written assignments, including demonstrating their ability to complete appropriate medical documentation. It included OSCEs, where the students complete a patient visit on a standardized patient. It also included the rarely loved always loathed DxR Clinician exams, where they complete a full assessment on an electronic patient.”
Hairr shared the statistic to note the growth the students have experienced over the past year.
The students developed a new vocabulary, learned and applied an overabundance of new information about medical diseases and their associated anatomy, pathophysiology, abnormal physical exam findings, treatment options, patient education, and learned and demonstrated reading EKGs to performing simple interrupted sutures.
“They came to us to learn medicine and become PAs. Through their hard work and dedication during their didactic year, they are halfway there,” said Hairr. “The institution, program faculty, staff, and I am excited to honor each of your achievements this year as you are awarded your white coat. This symbolizes your transition from didactic year to clinical year. Based on what we have seen this year, we are excited to watch you grow into excellent clinicians as you transition into the next part of your training.”
During the clinical year, the students begin to apply their knowledge through interacting with patients in collaboration with a clinical preceptor.
When addressing the Class of 2022, Hairr stated that every Class has its personality.
“Each Class is a little different than the next. When I reflected on the last two years with this Class, the word resilient came to mind,” he said.
He said March 2020, with the rush to find Clorox wipes and toilet paper, in some ways seems like it was just yesterday, and in others, a lifetime ago. The transition to online went as smoothly as possible due to the flexibility and understanding of the students.
“They remained engaged through days of Blackboard collaboration, videoing themselves doing physical exams on their loved ones, dogs, or stuffed animals. They remained understanding despite the disruption to their educational process. Once we came back in person, they worked double-time to catch up on the things we missed in person and made sure they were prepared to enter their clinical year.”
Hairr said as they transitioned to clinical year, keeping up with the ever-changing schedule, paperwork requirements, and mask mandates at their various clinical sites kept them on their toes. They rarely complained about a canceled week of a rotation due to a COVID exposure, an additional form or orientation they had to complete, or another online module they had to do.
“They remained resilient, understanding, flexible, and are now being rewarded for their hard work. I am excited for everyone to get their “dash C” and become our colleagues. On behalf of the faculty, we cannot wait to see what you do during your careers and all the lives you can touch.”
Hairr described the make-up of the hood the graduates would be receiving.
The candidates for holders of master’s and doctoral degrees wear hoods, which are the most expressive academic costume components. The hood symbolizes a heavy burden and represents the successful completion of the graduate program. The hood identifies the level of the degree, the field of learning, and the institution that awards it. The master’s hood is three and a half feet long and black, lined with the institution’s colors conferring the degree. The hood is displayed down the back with the lining turned inside out. The velvet trim indicates the subject to which the degree pertains.
“The hoods worn by NGU’s graduating PA students are trimmed in green, which represents the study of medicine and symbolizes the original use of medicinal herbs,” said Hairr.
Professor Kaye Rickman, associate PA program director, led all the students in the PA Professional Oath.
The oath is recited at white coat ceremonies, hooding ceremonies, and commencement ceremonies around the country. By taking the oath, students pledge to put their patients’ health, safety, and privacy first and adhere to a professional code of ethics. The Student Academy of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (SAAAPA) developed the oath adopted by their Assembly of Representatives.
The NGU PA Medicine degree program attracts an increasing number of students to NGU’s School of Allied Health Professions. These ceremonies have become a yearly milestone for the school and are a growing trend.
The white coat recipients were Becky Adams, Matthew Carter, Victoria Carter, Karen Colangione, Christopher Crocker, Stephanie DeGraaf, Olivia Gabriel, Christopher Giorgio, Allyson Hale, Mary Baxter Harlow, Kylee Humphreys, Halle Irvine, Craig Knoche, Maureen Mitchell, Jennifer Mooneyham, Lexi Mycock, James Newman, Derek Newton, Bahaar Patel, Kaylee Simmons, Dorothy Sisto, Trevor Spurling, Kate Stewart, Jason Thomas, Royall Tyler, Kenzie Vertner, Amanda Walton, Lucy Warner, and Michelle Zedonek.
Members of PA Medicine’s graduating Class of 2021 are Kaylee Adams, Rasmine Baker, Vladislav Balko, Lisa Barnes, Breanne Caffery, Robert Colletta, Olivia Ellgass, Caroline Franklin, Sydney Gettel, Anna Geurkink, John Ghrigsby, Justin Goff, Sarah Gutknecht, Aubrey Hestir, Andrea Joaquim, Ross LeClair, Jessica Lizio, Cheyenne Manning, Jordan Mattern, Olivia Meck, Hayley Meleason, Kelly Mills, Brittany Nielsen, Nia Peak, Kara Peschock, Tracy Petrilli, Rose Scott, Ashley Theobald, Savannah Uldrick, and Rebecca White.